Earlier this week, Covenant Christian School in Nashville suffered an act of unthinkable violence at the hands of a shooter who, though biologically female, had posted information publicly that suggested that she identified with the trans community and thought of herself as being transgender. And those of us who were not preoccupied with mourning were preoccupied with narrative.
Some were quick to cast blame for the event on Republican lawmakers in Tennessee who had refused to put curbs on weapons, while putting legal restrictions on things like underage medical transitioning and drag shows. At a protest at the Tennessee Statehouse, a combination of gun control and transgender activists pointedly raised seven fingers: “seven fingers, seven victims,” making the shooter out to be more martyr than perpetrator.
But, on the other end of the spectrum, a lot of Christians and conservatives were quick to jump to some conclusions that no available evidence supports. There are reports that the shooter left behind a “manifesto” and we’ve been left to imagine what sorts of things it might contain. But we don’t know. And the surmise that the shooter may have begun taking testosterone as part of a medical transitioning regimen, a development which could partially account for the remarkably aggressive behavior from someone who’d never demonstrated it before, began to be reported by Christians as a matter of (unsubstantiated) fact.
The whole thing is deeply unsettling and polarizing and none of us have any confidence in the media or authorities to fairly and accurately report the facts, and the media and authorities have no confidence in us to fairly and accurately interpret the facts they report. It’s an ugly and cynical impasse.
And it is even more fraught for us locally because of the VPA’s much publicized decision to exclude Mid Vermont Christian School from all VPA sponsored athletic and academic events going forward because of their decision to forfeit a women’s basketball game against an opponent who was going to have a transgender athlete on the court. This is close to home for those of us who graduated from Mid Vermont or who attend or work at Rutland Area Christian school.
Our church is committed to orthodox teaching on gender and sexuality and to being a warm and welcoming community for everyone who needs a personal relationship with Jesus. We’ve been doing our best to thread a very fine line with Spirit led deftness. But it is feeling increasingly likely that things will come to a head at some point, despite our preference for peace.
So what are we to do?
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog